Renting in UAE

renting in UAE

Expatriates have a wide range of appealing rental choices when it comes to renting in the UAE. Here’s a comprehensive guide to assist you in locating your new home.

Throughout the UAE, especially in Dubai, there is a diverse selection of rental options available for expatriates. In the major emirates like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and certain areas of Sharjah, the quality of living can rival that of Western countries. This article provides an overview of renting in UAE.

Renting in UAE

The Rental Market in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates stands out in the Middle East for its unique feature: the majority of its seven emirates are conveniently connected by road. The region boasts an exceptional highway network and affordable fuel, allowing you to work in one emirate and live in another, such as working in Abu Dhabi and residing in Dubai or working in Dubai and calling Sharjah home. Rental prices vary from one emirate to another. Typically, Dubai has the highest rental costs, closely followed by Abu Dhabi. Other emirates offer considerably more affordable rates without compromising on the quality of life.

Renting in UAE is a relatively efficient and well-regulated process. The tenancy contract, or ‘letter of the law,’ plays a pivotal role, so it’s essential to discuss all terms with your landlord before the contract is drafted. Be sure to thoroughly review the contract for specific details.

Renting in UAE

While there isn’t official data available on the rental market in the UAE, it’s estimated that roughly 70% of the population opts for renting, with a significant portion being expatriates.

Rental rates in the country are regulated by the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), and the rent index offers transparency. If you’re familiar with the index and believe that an agent or landlord is asking for higher rent, you have room to negotiate a better deal.

It’s essential to note that there is an oversupply of rental properties in the UAE due to rapid construction growth in the country. Therefore, take your time to search for the perfect rental property. You’ll likely discover your ideal home at more competitive rates than market data might suggest. While renting in prominent emirates like Dubai and Abu Dhabi can be costly, it’s not as extreme as some reports may imply. It’s advisable to keep your rent within 25% of your total income and avoid succumbing to the allure of luxury properties. Even on a budget, renting in the United Arab Emirates can provide a positive experience.

It’s also important to be aware that cohabiting as an unmarried couple is considered illegal in the UAE, which is governed by Islamic laws. While some people may unofficially cohabit, it’s generally advisable not to take this risk. However, don’t let the idea of single living deter you, as the UAE is known for being one of the safest countries globally, offering secure and advanced amenities, making it an excellent place for single women as well.

Popular Places for Renting in UAE

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina is a contemporary neighborhood within walking distance of the beach, offering stunning views of the crystal-clear waters of the Dubai Marina. It’s renowned for its luxurious high-rise buildings, excellent dining options, and top-notch shopping malls. As the sun sets, the area comes alive with nightly festivities.

Downtown Dubai

Nestled around the iconic Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai is a sophisticated neighborhood located right next to the financial district. It is home to the world’s largest mall, the Dubai Mall.

Bur Dubai

Bur Dubai is the historical heart of the city, exuding vintage charm. This area offers a mix of villas and apartment buildings and is known for its delectable street food. It’s also a cultural hub and boasts excellent connectivity to the rest of the city.

Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi

Situated 600 meters off the northeast coast of Abu Dhabi, Al Reem Island offers a natural haven with stunning waterfront properties and breathtaking views, making it a popular choice among expatriates.

Khalifa City, Abu Dhabi

Khalifa City has gained immense popularity among expats working in Abu Dhabi due to its convenience, medical facilities, and quality schools. This suburban enclave provides a peaceful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle, making it an ideal choice for families residing in apartments or villas.

Al Tawwun, Sharjah

Al Tawwun is an excellent choice for families, as it is located adjacent to the canal-side complex of Al Qasba, which features attractions like a Ferris wheel, restaurants, and art galleries.

Buying vs Renting in UAE

Renting in UAE, Housing

The UAE is a standout among Middle Eastern countries for its successful implementation of freehold property ownership for foreign investors. Numerous South Asian businesspersons, particularly from India and Pakistan, who aspire to establish long-term roots in the UAE, have chosen to invest in properties there, despite the absence of citizenship or naturalization opportunities based on property ownership.

Many individuals initially arrive in the UAE with plans for a short two- or three-year stay but end up extending their stay, ultimately considering property purchase. If your financial situation allows for it, this can be a worthwhile endeavor. However, it’s important to note that you’ll typically need to pay 25% of the property’s total value upfront. That said, if you are uncertain about your long-term plans, renting can be a more prudent option.

Types of Property for Renting in UAE

The United Arab Emirates, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, presents the opportunity for exceptionally luxurious living. However, it’s important to note that it’s not exclusively about the high-end lifestyle, as there are also reasonably priced housing choices available.

Here’s an Overview of Available Property Types:

Villas in Compounds

These villas provide 24-hour security and a range of amenities including community centers, shopping areas, pharmacies, playgrounds, parks, swimming pools, gyms, and more. They come in 2, 3, and 4-bedroom options and often feature a garden. Property maintenance is typically managed internally.

Standalone Villas and Townhouses

These properties can offer up to five or six bedrooms, spacious gardens, and even a private swimming pool. Maintenance inclusion may vary depending on your rental agreement.


Ranging from studios to luxurious penthouses, there’s a wide selection of apartments available. Most buildings, especially newer ones, come equipped with a gym, swimming pool, and 24/7 security.

Serviced Apartments and Hotel Apartments

These properties operate much like hotels, offering housekeeping and in-room dining services. They are suitable for shorter stays, spanning a few weeks or months, and often require minimal paperwork, just an ID and advance payment. In many cases, utilities such as electricity and water are included, and Wi-Fi is usually provided free of charge.

Furnished and Unfurnished Homes

Apartments and villas can be either furnished or unfurnished. For longer stays, many people prefer unfurnished units that they can personalize to their liking. Some properties come semi-furnished, with white goods like refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, and cooking appliances included.

When renting a furnished property, it’s possible that items like cutlery, crockery, or bed linen may not be provided. In such situations, it’s advisable to have a conversation with your agent or landlord. Create an inventory of the items and, if desired, take photographs for added security. Once the inventory list is complete, have your landlord review and co-sign it

Searching for Rental Properties in the UAE

Finding Rental Properties in the United Arab Emirates

The majority of rental properties are listed on online property platforms, with some of the most popular sites being:

  1. Bayut
  2. Blueground
  3. dubizzle
  4. Property Finder
  5. Zoom Property

Additionally, you can explore the classified sections in both print and online editions of prominent newspapers in the UAE, such as Gulf News, Khaleej Times, The National, and Gulf Today. These listings will provide the names and contact information of agents or landlords. While most properties are managed by agents, you may occasionally come across listings directly from landlords. Notably, the majority of agents in the UAE are fluent in English. Once you’ve identified a property of interest, contact the agent to arrange a viewing at a time that suits you; many agents work on weekends as well.

Some buildings feature “for rent” signs with contact information displayed on empty apartments. If you’re drawn to a particular building, you can inquire with the front office staff, who can inform you about available apartments and how to reach the agent or landlord.

Lastly, you can inquire with your company’s HR department to see if they have a list of recommended agents who may offer discounts.

Locating Student Accommodation in the UAE

Numerous colleges and universities in the UAE offer on-campus housing, which is typically fully furnished and includes various options like dormitories, studios, and one-bedroom apartments. To select the most suitable option, visit the institution’s website, such as Abu Dhabi University, and complete the application process. The course fee often incorporates your accommodation, covering utilities and WiFi. In cases where educational institutions do not offer on-campus housing, they typically collaborate with specialized student housing providers.

Searching for Shared Flats in the UAE

Sharing apartments is typically not permitted in the United Arab Emirates unless the landlord provides written consent within the lease agreement. Information about flatshares can often be obtained through personal referrals, social media, or local community center notice boards.

Renting a Property in UAE: A Guide

When you reach out to the agent, property manager, or landlord (if you’re dealing directly), you can arrange a viewing at a time that suits both parties. It’s worth noting that many agents are available to work on weekends. It’s advisable to initiate this process once you have your residence visa and a bank checkbook at your disposal. In case your visa process is delayed, you can request a letter from your company confirming that your visa application is in progress.

During the property viewing, ensure it takes place in good daylight, request a tour of the building, and thoroughly examine all available facilities. If you find the property unsatisfactory, your agent is likely to have other options to present.

When you’ve identified a property that meets your requirements, you can secure it by paying a security deposit, typically equivalent to 5% of the annual rent.

Important Rental Procedures in the UAE

  1. Tenancy contracts in the UAE typically have an annual duration.

  2. To initiate the tenancy contract, you will need to provide a copy of your passport and a copy of your residence visa. In case your visa is still in process, your company’s or sponsor’s letter can serve as a temporary substitute. However, once your visa is issued, you must promptly provide a copy.

  3. The tenancy contract preparation usually takes four to five working days, with the paperwork handled by the agent in coordination with the landlord.

  4. Rent payments are generally made quarterly, although some landlords may request three checks instead of four. You may be able to negotiate a better deal by providing only two checks. Regardless of the arrangement, you must present postdated checks when signing the contract, and it’s essential to obtain a receipt for these checks.

  5. A security deposit is also required, typically paid in cash. Ensure you retain the receipt, as you will need it when requesting a refund at the end of your lease term.

  6. If you engage the services of a real estate agent, you can pay the commission in cash or by check, which typically amounts to 5% of the rental value.

  7. Tenancy contracts are binding for a year. Exiting prematurely may result in penalties, generally equivalent to two months’ rent, and you will also need to provide two months’ notice.

When's Your Move-In Date?

If everything proceeds smoothly, you can potentially move in within the week. Once you have your contract in hand, you can initiate the process to set up water and electricity connections. In certain emirates, like Dubai, this can be a straightforward online procedure, and the services typically become operational within 24 hours.

Like Renting in UAE, You may also like to read about Buying a Property in UAE.

Renting in UAE

Renting Costs in the United Arab Emirates

In Dubai and Abu Dhabi, rental prices are notably higher compared to other emirates. It’s not uncommon to find individuals working in Dubai choosing to live in Sharjah or Ajman to save on rent. For instance, renting a one-bedroom apartment in a slightly less central area of Dubai or Abu Dhabi might cost you between AED 40,000 to AED 45,000 annually, whereas in Sharjah or Ajman, similar accommodations can be at least 40 to 50% more budget-friendly, without compromising on location.

In the pricier emirates, a two-bedroom apartment in an upscale neighborhood may come with a price tag of about AED 90,000 to AED 100,000 annually. Meanwhile, a three-bedroom villa in Dubai could demand upwards of AED 150,000, whereas in Sharjah, you might secure one for AED 90,000.

Rental payments are typically made through post-dated checks, usually starting from the date you move in. For example, if you move into a property on the 10th of a month, subsequent check encashments occur on the 10th of each quarter, or once every four months if you’ve opted for a three-check plan.

Should your rental check bounce, there can be substantial penalties if your landlord files a complaint. While in the past, legal consequences like imprisonment were possible, recent changes in the law have altered this. If you encounter difficulties with a bounced check, it’s advisable to communicate with your landlord, provide a valid reason for the issue, and assure them that you will make the payment as soon as possible.

Rental Deposits

In the UAE, the standard rental security deposit typically amounts to 5% of the total annual rent. This deposit is paid upfront and is refundable at the end of your lease term provided you move out in satisfactory condition, with no outstanding utility bills.

Additional Costs

In the emirate of Dubai, a housing fee is applied to your water and electricity bills, equivalent to 5% of your monthly rent. For instance, if your annual rent totals AED 60,000, resulting in a monthly rent of AED 5,000, the housing fee would amount to an extra AED 250 per month. This fee is integrated into your utility bills, which are settled at the end of each month.

Additionally, in Dubai, an ejari fee of approximately AED 200 is incurred each time you sign a new lease contract or renew an existing one. Ejari registration is the online registration of the property, enforced by RERA Dubai.

Tenancy Contracts in the UAE

Most rental agreements in the UAE follow an annual term. However, if you plan to stay for a shorter duration, you may explore hotel apartments or serviced apartments that offer more flexible payment options on a weekly or monthly basis, usually in advance.

Both the tenant and the landlord are required to sign the contract, and no witnesses are typically needed.

Should the tenant need to terminate the contract prematurely and move out before the agreed term, a two-month notice is generally required, along with a penalty. The standard penalty is often set at two months’ rent and is specified within the tenancy contract. However, some contracts may stipulate that the tenant is liable for the entire remaining term’s rent as a penalty. To avoid such commitments, it’s important to communicate your annual commitment with your agent or landlord. Typically, tenancy contracts in the UAE are structured with quarterly post-dated checks, but opting for a three-check or two-check arrangement may result in a discount.

In rare cases where a landlord needs the property vacated for personal reasons, they must provide three months’ notice to the tenant, and the tenant is not subject to any penalty

Rights and Responsibilities of Tenants and Landlords

Landlord’s Responsibilities and Obligations

  1. Providing Documentation: The landlord is obligated to furnish the tenant with a copy of the rental contract in English, along with a receipt for the security deposit.

  2. Rent Stability: During the one-year contract duration, the landlord cannot raise the rent. However, at the end of the year, any rent increase must comply with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority guidelines. If new guidelines are introduced during the contract term, the tenant is not entitled to request a reduction in rent. Essentially, rent adjustments cannot be made once the contract is in place.

  3. Furnished Accommodation: In the case of furnished rentals, the landlord is responsible for providing an inventory of the items. The tenant should review and sign off on the inventory to prevent later disputes.

  4. Bounced Rent Checks: It is a punishable offense under the law for the tenant if a rent check bounces. The landlord also has the right to evict the tenant and their family immediately.

  5. Maintenance: For apartment buildings, the landlord is responsible for maintaining all external and common areas, including the lobby, corridors, pool, gym, and more. If the landlord does not own the entire building and only owns the specific apartment being rented, they usually cover the building maintenance costs (unless otherwise specified in the contract).

Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities

  1. Informed Decisions: Tenants are advised to carefully review all documents before signing the contract. It’s essential to understand that once you have signed the contract, you are bound by its terms, even if you find certain clauses to be unfavorable.

  2. Lease Renewal: After 12 months, tenants are not obligated to renew the contract if they disagree with the proposed rent increase.

  3. Alterations: Tenants can only make changes to fixtures, fittings, or undertake alterations with the explicit consent of the landlord, as specified in the contract.

  4. Early Termination: If a tenant terminates the contract prematurely and vacates the property, a typical penalty is equivalent to two months’ rent.

  5. Sub-Letting and Flat-Sharing: Sub-leasing or flat-sharing is generally prohibited unless the tenant obtains written consent from the landlord.

  6. Garbage Disposal: In buildings with apartments, there is typically a garbage disposal chute on every floor, and it is the tenant’s responsibility to use it for trash disposal. No trash should be left in common areas. For those living in villas, maintenance personnel will collect the garbage. In standalone villas, tenants need to arrange for local municipality garbage collection services and cover the associated fees.

  7. Property Maintenance: Tenants are expected to maintain the property in good condition. At the end of the lease term, any necessary repairs and maintenance costs will be deducted from the security deposit.

What to Do in Case of a Dispute?

In each of the emirates, there are specialized committees dedicated to resolving rental disputes. In Dubai, for example, the Rental Disputes Center, located at the Dubai Land Department’s main office in Deira, offers assistance. Abu Dhabi also operates the Abu Dhabi Judicial Academy for this purpose.

To file a complaint, you will typically need to submit the following documents:

  1. Identification proof of both the tenant and the landlord (as recognized by the respective emirate).
  2. Originals and copies of passports and visas.
  3. The original rental contract.
  4. Receipt for the rental deposit.

Utilities and Telecommunications Setup in the UAE

In most properties, excluding serviced apartments, tenants are responsible for arranging the installation of utilities (electricity and water) and telecommunications services (Wi-Fi and landline). Occasionally, in apartment buildings, the landlord may cover the chiller (air-conditioning) costs, which could be factored into the rent.

If you opt to do so or if it’s part of your agreement, you can enlist the assistance of your agent to facilitate the setup. This is particularly helpful for arranging electricity, water, and gas connections, as these services need to be in place upon your move-in. Many properties come equipped with electric cooking ranges, reducing the need for a separate gas connection.

For disconnecting electricity and water services, it is necessary to visit one of the service centers in person and complete the closure form.

Tips for Renting in UAE

  1. Pet-Friendly Buildings: Ensure that your building permits pets if you have one. Villas typically accommodate pets.

  2. Legal Review: It’s advisable to have a legal expert or someone experienced in living in the UAE review your contract to ensure you don’t overlook any important details.

  3. Document Management: Keep all paperwork meticulously organized, including the tenancy contract, receipts for the refundable security deposit, utility service deposit, and more.

  4. Considerate Neighbors: If you plan to host gatherings at your place, be mindful of the noise level, especially in vibrant areas like Dubai. Inform your neighbors in advance, as they have the right to contact the authorities if noise becomes a disturbance.

  5. Common Area Etiquette: In apartment buildings, avoid causing disturbances in common areas, respecting the peace and comfort of fellow residents.

  6. Respect During Ramadan: During the Holy Month of Ramadan, show respect by refraining from eating or dressing inappropriately in common areas during fasting hours.”